Day 9: The Roller Coaster of Northern Georgia

Pre-Day Thoughts

I was dreading the hike I planned to do. On my zero, I kept looking at the elevation profile and wondered if I’d actually be able to hike where I wanted to go. I planned on a 13.4-mile day with over 4,000 feet in elevation gain AND loss. I had a backup site, but I really wanted to make it to a shelter. Despite hiking solo, I hate sleeping alone in the woods. I just don’t sleep. Additionally, I felt nervous that I wouldn’t see anybody that I knew. Chronic loneliness is something that I struggle with and feel very strongly while on trail. I guess that’s something else I hope to focus on while hiking. I recognized a few that I stayed with at the previous shelter and felt relieved.

The Rolling Elevation Changes

By 8:45, I was hiking up Rocky Mountain. My pack was around seven pounds lighter because Gordon, the owner of the Around the Bend Hostel, suggested I leave whatever I didn’t need that night and the next morning at the hostel, and pick it up by the time I get to Dicks Creek Gap. Obviously, I took him up on the offer. It was free – I couldn’t resist. I needed whatever help I could get up and down this section of mountains.

A view of the steepness of Rocky Mountain. Plus, a view of Steve’s backside as he continued on.

The way up was steep, but I practiced endurance by slowing down, but not stopping. The majority of the day consisted of steep ups and downs. Before making it to Indian Grave Gap, I met up with Steve, Joe, Ian, and Spencer. They took a zero together at the Green Dragon Hostel and became pretty close-knit. I can imagine that if they keep the same pace, they’ll be a trail family before too long. They already call themselves Clan Topos.

Clan Topos and Grace resting at a viewpoint. They started posing after being reassured that The Trek is okay with some thigh showing.

The journey to Tray Mountain Shelter was strenuous, but worth the views. Steve, a.k.a Just Steve, Hey Google, or No Butter, helped coordinate the photoshoot at the top. There, Clan Topos, Grace (another thru-hiker), and I ate lunch. I parted ways and continued on.

Me posing at the top of Tray Mountain after being told to look fierce. Photograph credit: Steve

Just One More Mountain

I was exhausted. Clan Topos caught back up with me right before the final ascent of the day. I didn’t even have the energy to cry. I just wearily hiked on, sipping on some baby food. Baby food is great for much needed vitamins, FYI. Once I started going downhill, I knew the shelter was close at hand. After hiking another 0.3 miles to get to the shelter, I was finally there. It was 5:00. I had hiked for almost nine hours.

The Birth of Captain Blogger

The sign leading to Deep Gap Shelter.

I set my stuff up in the shelter as I had no desire to set my tent up and began cooking dinner. Others started to follow suit. There was only me and two others sleeping in the shelter. The fact that nobody wanted to stay in there spoke volumes. It was a cool building with a section story and a mostly enclosed space.

Pete, who I have hiked with previously, was there and he unintentionally gave me my trail name. I now introduce myself as Captain Blogger. I never did think to put the two together. I was going to start calling myself Seasonal since I never know what to say when asked “Where are you from?” I always respond saying, “I do a lot of seasonal work, so the place changes a lot.” It’s amazing how much that question is asked. Captain Blogger sounds better though. 


At the dinner table, the subject of mice kept being brought up. Apparently, the Deep Gap Shelter has a bad mouse problem – especially on the second story. I continued to debate if I made the right choice as I burnt my food. I was really looking forward to my dehydrated Thanksgiving meal but made the mistake of not separating the instant mashed potatoes from everything else. Disappointed, I dumped my now water laden food into my trash bag. I couldn’t even stomach it.

The subject of mice was brought up again and my mentioning of hantavirus really spooked the two others staying in the shelter with me. Joe decided to investigate the shelter with his flashlight and once he said, “Yo, there are so many eyes staring at me.” I dropped everything and grabbed my tent. “You’re abandoning ship?” the two shelter people called out. “You bet the hell I am!” My tent was up in less than a minute. Everyone was impressed. It was good timing too because the sun was starting to set. Once the sun was gone, so was I.

James and Nick in the process of moving out of the shelter when told that there were mice everywhere.

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Comments 1

  • Richard : Mar 21st

    I am enjoying your posts. I think you can do this. It will be cool to see Spring arrive on the AT through your eyes.


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